Emotional rain delay team talk sparked the Cubs' historic triumph

At long last, for the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

Image: Matt Marton

AFTER WAITING 108 years to win the World Series again, the Chicago Cubs were inspired to victory last night by an emotional team meeting during a 17-minute rain delay.

Showers stopped the winner-take-all final game of Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship series.

Play was halted after the regulation nine innings with the score a 6-6 deadlock after the Cleveland Indians scored three runs in the eighth.

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward gathered his teammates in the weight room during the break and told them to forget about squandering what had been a 5-1 lead and focus on winning the game.

In the 10th inning, Ben Zobrist doubled in the go-ahead run and Miguel Montero singled home what proved to be the winning run for Chicago in an 8-7 triumph over Cleveland to end America’s longest sport title drought.

“I just had to remind them who they were,” Heyward said. “I just reminded everybody who we are, who these guys are, what we’ve overcome to get here. Win or lose, we never worry about that. I’m proud of these guys.”

The meeting made a difference in confidence for the players, many of them 20-somethings who were not given a chance to hang their heads.

“All the players, we rallied together, we rallied strong,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “We knew that we could do this. We know we keep fighting, we never quit, we always say it, and we pull together and we won.”

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Manager Joe Maddon pondered the benefits of the delay.

“The rain delay, it’s crazy how things happen for a reason,” he said. “I walk off and I see them all gathering in that little room down below there, and they had a meeting.

“And I’m upstairs just checking out the weather map. I hate meetings. I’m not a meetings guy.”

Kris Bryant called it “the best thing for us,” while Zobrist, the Series Most Valuable Player, said it proved crucial.

“The rain delay was really important for our team because we got everybody, all the players, down into the weight room,” said Zobrist. “J-Hey called a meeting and said, ‘Come in here, I’ve got something to say.’

“He said, ‘Whatever has happened up to this point in the game, we’ve got to forget about it. It’s over. We’re still the best team. We’re going to pull this thing out. We need to pull together and chip away. We’re going to win this game.’”

“Most teams would have folded in that moment where we lost that lead and hat’s off to our leaders for just making that moment happen and kind of turning the page for us.”

© AFP 2016

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